Friday, August 11, 2006

Hospital Abolishes Helipad in Favour of Car Park

Just to demonstrate how mad our Health Servive has got, East Grinstead Hospital is abolishing its Air Ambulance Helipad in favour of making twenty or thirty new car parking spaces, which will give it an extra £50,000 a year in revenue. Sod the patients who may die because of it, of course.

Several other hospitals in Kent are considering doing away with helipad facilities for the same reason. Kent Air Ambulance think it's mad, as it inevitably means they have to land further away from a hospital. You really couldn't make it up, could you?

23 comments:

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

Do you think that, if they didn't have financial issues at the moment, they would still be taking this decision?

I suspect it's just a stop-gap measure for problems passed on to them or caused by certain people further up the chain...

beethoven writes said...

By charging people high amounts to park in hospital car parks, you are in effect charging them a fee of around £10 to £15 each time to attend an out-patient appointment. When this was suggested for GP appointments, it was rejected. It is only because it is called a car park charge that they get away with it.

injured cyclist

Benedict White said...

Well, to be fair Iain, you could but no one would believe you.

Yes it is mad, but then our local hospital was moved from a work house/Canadian Army base of world war 2 close to the main roads, to a center of town site.

Obviously thats not good enough so it is dying a death of a thousand cuts o move into a more congeested place in Brighton.

However, lets be clear, this is the best year for the NHS ever. Oh yes!?

Alex Hilton said...

Yes Iain, but how many life-saving treatments will the NHS be able to deliver with that 50k (A whole year's salary for an A&E doctor?). Will this be greater or fewer than the number of people saved by the helicopter?

And while I'm here, you should recall that you are a Tory, not generally an adherent to the doctrine of oversupply when it somes to providing public services.

Are you prepared to say right now that you would oppose the privatisation of hospitals and doctors' surgeries or the introduction of inequitable insurance or voucher-based systems of health provision?

If so, I'm sure you'd be welcome to come and play for our team.

Tone made me do it - he's a bad influence said...

Its not just the 50k.
Air ambulances bring in patients normally in need of intensive care from accross the region.
-Get rid of the Heliport and they have to be taken elsewhere, saving the managers in that hospital trust considerable amounts of money.
John Major's internal market worked because hospitals were allowed to agree the cost of procedure's, and openly discussed things when prices were too low.
Now they keep stum and shut the heliport.

Sid-from-Sidcup said...

If you refer to the Queen Victoria Hospital, then it has an interesting website. There it will give you details of how to complain. But what it does not appear to give is the names, addresses and qualifications of the board members. Why can this be?

simon-W4 said...

Unfortunatley this piece of news surprises me not at all. Having worked in a fair few hospitals in my times I've come accross dozens of madcap schemes aimed at cutting budget defecits.

Unfortunately I've never come accross any serious long term strategies for getting rid of the multitude of waste of space characters who populate hospital payrolls. There's an army of people in the NHS whose only real skill is protecting their own job.

Its about time NHS management raised their game. We need proper strategic thinking and performance management here. Increasing competition from teh private sector will, I hope, concentrate minds in this regard.

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

Are you sure, Alex?

I was getting the impression that your team stood for those issues!

raincoaster said...

Alex, sweetie, how many lifesaving treatments will the hospital be able to deliver to people who die en route in an ambulance?

My family has worked in hospitals since before I was born, and we have a very healthy respect for the ability of helipads to save lives. Amateurs are, of course, never short of opinions...

strapworld said...

When the truth about the absolute incompetence of this labour government, in everything it has touched, is revealed, when they lose power and the books are screened by the incoming administration, the scandal that will be revealed will ensure that the Labour Party will never be entrusted with government again.

We all know of the shocking incompetence within the NHS created by the one size fits all requirement of the labour government.

similarly within education, policing,social services the list goes on and on.

My sympathy in this particular story is with the managers at this hospital who are struggling with a debt created by this government.

Surely, Iain, the target for critcism must always be this shambolic,untrained and third rate government.

Any government that allows a man like Prescott to remain in office without any responsibilities shows that, in their own words,
they are UNFIT FOR PURPOSE.

Mike said...

Here in Coventry we're building a new helipad right in the car park of the brand new hospital that is crippling the finances of the secondary trust and is already too small. If they decided to forego the helipad and go back to the sports field they have been using thus far and potentially be able to gain more income then I would be in favour of such a move. I'm unclear if similar thinking is behind the decision at East Grinstead.

On a further note, having worked for the NHS in various roles and departments I can seriously suggest that privatisation is the best way forward.

Gasman said...

Helipads make sense in remote hospitals but not in conurbations, where land transfer is fine. Helis are a media-backed gimmick and almost complete waste of money. Audit their data properly, they claim every transfer is a life saved. One near us took a new mother home! They can't fly at night (so most of winter) and transferring critically ill patients in a heli is a 'mare because of lack of space and noise. So, how many patients transferred in who couldn't be brought by road, how many transferred out? My guess is zero for both.

casual observer said...

I'm glad I live in France.

casual observer said...

All Blair has to do is dump his nasty fat friend and then they can afford lots and lots of helipads at hospitals, maybe even another helicopter!

Colin D. said...

Sounds a bit like Dover, Kent "England" we have loads of car parks, no real hospital though. The last run down site is in imminent danger of closing. Thanks to our "wonderful" former sea dog of an MP, and Ho Tony.
Bless im.

Anonymous said...

A surprisingly short - sighted move. After all, when the NHS is run by American multi-nationals where will the Chief Executive's helicopter land when he or she flies in for the annual visit ?

jafo said...

Gasman - can't agree with you about helicopters being great in rural areas but not needed in conurbations. Don't know where you live, but DO know where the QVH is in East Grinstead. This is a highly congested area which has needed a bypass for years but can't get one because the Government doesn't think it's a good idea (think Prescott's previous office was in charge of that decision).

QVH also has a world-famous burns unit which takes patients from all over the country, such is its expertise. Helicopters make quick transfers possible, because however many "blues and twos" are used, ambulances can't fly over the traffic.

This is a wrong decision, driven by financial issues which must be all the Government's fault - where has all this money allegedly pumped into the NHS gone? All the hospitals in this corner of South East England (and there aren't enough of them anyway) are in dire financial straits. Why? The highly-paid Chief Executives can't seem to explain - then again, perhaps they are the problem rather than the solution.

Anonymous said...

Some commentators seem to assume that the car parking fees go to into NHS funds. This is not the case for many PFI hospitals where car parking fees go to the PFI companies.

ScotsToryB said...

2 points

It is NHS staff who are being charged for using these car parks & with the centralisation of services cars are a necessity - I would not like my partner to walk through the area next to her workplace at most times of day - I personally would not. Staff are, of course, being "consulted" about charges. Consultation works like this: we are introducing charges and our opening bid is £10 per day or £5 per use. That is it. You will be charged. Salaries are increasing accordingly. Sorry. That last sentence.......

Secondly my partner tells me that the helipad (large hospital in Glasgow) has frequently brought in patients whose lives have been saved as a result. She should know, she runs the theatres where this has happened.

Watch for the exodus. Consultants who may visit 5 or 6 hospitals a day being charged each time, any staff being called out for emergencies paying for the privilege.

This, my friends is what happens when a mediocre middle management team stages a political coup and the electorate are too damn stupid to realise what is going on.

I'm going now, blood pressure is rising.

Geoff said...

Here in Cambridge, Addenbrookes is just trying to raise the dosh (from charities) to build a helipad!

raincoaster said...

Maybe I'm biased, being a Canadian socialist (forgive me if I repeat myself) but it's quite simply true that helicopters save lives. Now that the average traffic speed in central London (for example) is three, count 'em, THREE miles per hour, you've got to admit that in a life and death situation a helicopter makes all the difference in the world.

It is equally true that the problems with the NHS are not the delivery of health care, but the management. Health care is a self-funding business, and becomes cheaper the more clients it has; here in Canada we've seen our health services eaten away by political interference and poor management. If it weren't a self-supporting industry, the private corporations wouldn't be interested in going into it.

BlueistheColour said...

Jafo talks a great deal of sense and like him; I know the QVH hospital very well.

The hospital is basically a Cottage Hospital and would have closed down years ago, with its size and proximity to other hospitals. It key USP, as it were, is the specialist burns unit. Those of you, who know your WWII history, may remember the Guinea Club - world-famous burns unit - treating all the pilots especially from the Battle of Britain.

With EG's proximity on the Kent Sussex Surrey Border and specialist status with the burns unit, it takes patients from all over the country, such is its expertise. Helicopters make quick transfers possible, and when I lived in the area regular flights. In particular, many people from major accidents on the South side of the M25 are sent helicopter to QVH

Yes the area needs a by-pass, but it would not make much difference to this hospital.

A by-pass has been talked about for over 50 years. I cannot believe I am defending Prescott (for once!) but despite the congestion the problem is access especially the complications of planning as the area cuts across Surrey, West Sussex and East Sussex. The principal problem of by-passing the A22 is the issue of Ashdown Forrest (E Sussex has a particular problem as they hold, if I recall, trusteeship of a large part of the western side of the Forrest.) Making the complications of route to connect with the A22 extended 15 years ago to duel carriage from Eastbourne to the start of the Forrest + complications of getting across reservoirs to the south of EG.)
I can imagine the campaign starting on this and putting car park in more likely to lead to closing the hospital. The burns unit is the heart of the QVH and probably makes EG famous (ignoring the Scientologists in the town!)

I suspect the CE has not got a clue, only looking at the costs rather than the history and importance of the burns unit. With events at airports’ over the last few days, any major accident at nearby Gatwick Airport would have sent all burns to the QVH

Anonymous said...

Build hospital with flat roof, land helicopter on roof?